Pollution in the Philippines could become even more suffocating with a plan to allow the sale of dirtier, but cheaper, diesel oil.
The Philippine energy ministry has told oil companies to sell a more polluting type of diesel oil in order to tackle inflation. This represents a step backwards from a two-year-old regulation that banned its use to improve air quality.
The energy department’s plan would need clearance from the environment department, which implemented Manila’s switch to cleaner Euro-IV compliant fuels from Euro-II in January 2016. This rule covered both oil companies and car manufacturers. The department was evaluating the plan, an official said today (Friday, August 10).
Yesterday, the Department of Energy directed that Euro-II diesel oil should return to the marketplace “for the purpose of reducing the impact of rising petroleum prices in the world market”.
Speaking to Reuters today, Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Jonas Leones said: “We’re studying it right now, giving consideration to their plan to cushion inflation. We’re also looking at the implications for emissions.”
Euro-IV fuels have sulphur content of 50 parts per million (ppm) versus 500 ppm for Euro-II fuels.
Petron Corp, the largest oil refiner in the Philippines, is now studying the impact of the energy department’s plan which it only received yesterday evening, a company spokesman said.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp, the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell, was also looking into the matter, a spokesman told Reuters.
Philippine annual inflation climbed to its highest in more than five years at 5.7 per cent in July, prompting the central bank to raise interest rates for a third time this year yesterday.
Along with the switch back to Euro II-fuels, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi also ordered the government’s Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp to import “low-priced petroleum products, particularly diesel, to mitigate the impact of volatile oil prices”.
The need to cut air pollution has been cited as the main motivation for government attempts to force old, decrepit jeepneys off the nation’s roads.